Letters to my Senators

Following Wednesday's Senate vote, I wrote both of my Senators, one of which voted in favor of the amendment, one against. You can read the letters below.

To Dan Coats, voted against the amendment Dear Senator Coats, I am writing to express my deep disappointment in your vote on the Manchin-Toomey amendement defeated in the Senate Wednesday evening. A law requiring background checks on any gun sale is common sense, and the failure of the Senate to break the status quo of voting against difficult choices is deplorable.

In addition, looking through public records, it is hard for me to separate political contributions from pro-gun organizations from representatives voting patterns. Accepting $1,000 from Safari Club International (3/29/2013, transaction # A48564D256394D1CA74) gives the appearance of agreeing with the lobby, rather than with the desires of the people you represent.

Hiding behind the "slippery slope" argument is weak, shortsighted, and a failure to stand up to major concerns in the country. I hope you will reconsider your decision if the legislation is introduced again.

Regretfully, Brian E. Bennett South Bend, IN

To Joe Donnelly, in favor of the amendments Dear Senator Donnelly, I want to thank you for voting in favor the Manchin-Toomey background check amendment in the Senate on Wednesday.

I am disappointed that the Senate did not take up the amendment, but I appreciate that you are standing up for compromise between parties and willing to take a stand on common sense legislation when it comes to gun regulations.

I want to encourage you to work with your counterpart, Senator Coats, in the continuation of the bill in the Senate.

Sincerely, Brian E. Bennett South Bend, IN

Please, take a moment to send a letter to your Senator. It is time we begin voicing our opinions strongly and consistently.

UPDATE 4/19/2013 12:05 PM I wanted to post my sources for the donations received by Dan Coats. You can see his quarterly donation report here, the referenced donation is page 34 of 64. Joe Donnelly's report is here, and he did not file a receipt for pro-gun groups during Q1.

5 thoughts on “Letters to my Senators

  1. Jehill says:

    Am I mistaken? I thought this blog was about education and teaching, not politics. I have appreciated your posts about educational ideas and issues. I think you have some great thoughts and experiences in education. However, if political posts are going to become the norm, I regret that I will not continue to follow your blog.

    • Jehill,
      First, thanks for your readership and for your comment. Yes, this is mostly about education tools and techniques, but I also think it is important to model citizenship to students and colleagues. I try not to get political, but at times, I will share writing that is political in nature if I feel like it is appropriate.

      I will keep sharing about education, so I do hope you continue to follow.

    • Kris Shaffer says:

      Though Brian didn’t make it explicit in this post, gun control is an education issue. When the gun lobby offers armed police officers in schools as the counterproposal to stricter gun control, this issue is certainly in part about the safety of children in schools as well as education policy.

      Lots of issues facing educators today are policy issues. Politics is not its own separate issue. Every student and teacher is a citizen, and every policy is about an issue. At least some educators need to speak up on issues of policy from time to time, both as citizens and as educators that care about the life, health, safety, and growth of students.

      • jehill says:

        I understand how violence through guns affects our schools. However, stricter background checks would not prevent guns from being brought onto school property. Criminals, by definition, do not obey the law so why would this be a law by which they would choose to abide? Most, if not all, of the shootings that have happened in our schools are by people who did not own the guns so a background check would not have mattered. If we want to make our schools safer, we need to focus on changing our school safety procedures and security systems. If that were the political issue addressed, I would not have a problem with the post.

  2. Just a Teacher says:

    “A law requiring background checks on any gun sale is common sense.”

    However, that is not what the proposed bill would accomplish. The bill did not required a background check on all sales. Most non-advertised, private sales would legally continue unimpeded. Also, guns will continue to be obtained outside of normal retail methods, either through theft, trade, purchased on a black market or the street, or through straw purchases. The bill (or any of the bills that crashed and burned this week) would not have prevented any of the mass shootings that prompted their creation, nor would they curtail the gun crime in places like Chicago. Personally, I’m not a big fan of my representatives voting for laws that don’t work for purely symbolic reasons.

    Has anyone stated explicitly what constitutes “common sense” background checks? A simple check of whether a person is a felon or not takes just a few minutes. But that’s not what’s being discussed here. In fact, in the President’s speech, he made clear that that is not what’s being discussed. Criminal history is, largely, an unbiased measure. Records of mental institutionalization is, largely, an unbiased measure. Anything beyond that is an invasion of privacy and affront to the most basic of rights in this country (presumption of innocence) that no American should put up with. If it looks anything like what New York or New Jersey has in place, it often takes a year, and thousands of dollars, for law-abiding citizens to exercise their constitutional right. Very quickly, chipping away at the 2nd amendment leads to chipping away at the others. If, at the end of the day, complying with these laws doesn’t solve the problem at hand, what will we be asked to give up next?

    I’m disgusted by gun violence (and violence in general). I don’t personally own a gun, but as someone who grew up in the south, and now lives in NYC, I have knowledge of both sides of this argument. The bottom line is this: Do Americans have an inherent right to own firearms, or do they not? The current interpretation of the second amendment supports an individual right to just that. If we, as a nation, no longer agree with this, then we can change it! There’s even a guidebook for doing so (the 5th amendment of the constitution). If we as a society object to an individual right to own firearms, then amend the constitution to reflect that. Attempts to use laws to change gun ownership from a right to a privilege have consistently been found unconstitutional, and only infringe our remaining rights.

    This issue is far more complex than “common sense” versus “lobby shill.” (and it takes far more than $1,000). It is truly common sense that people want gun violence to end. But if the bill doesn’t accomplish that (or come anywhere close to attempting to), then I’d rather my representatives vote against it, and do something that actually will.

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